Every once in a while, I think I need to write a post, commenting on some random internet horribleness. Usually I resist the urge. But sometimes I give in. And there have been a few semi-linked bits of horribleness I tripped over recently, so I’m just going to point a few out.

First, Scott Adams has (finally?) gone a bit too far, apparently. I stopped reading Dilbert a long time ago, and I pretty much gave up on Adams in 2016, when he was supporting you-know-who for president. GoComics still, technically, carries Dilbert, but they posted a tweet today that makes it look like maybe they’ll finally drop it. (Or not. It’s a pretty weak statement.) Maybe it’s time for me to throw out my Dilbert books and toys. I know I have a few of them around here somwhere.

And of course there’s an Elon Musk angle to the Dilbert story. I’d already made my mind up about Musk too, so that doesn’t surprise me. I haven’t totally dropped off of Twitter, but I don’t check it too often these days. Mastodon has mostly replaced Twitter for me, but there are a lot of folks and organizations that are still only on Twitter.

Speaking of Mastodon and Twitter, I stumbled across a reference to the Pinboard guy on Mastodon yesterday. He had dropped off Twitter in 2022, and I hadn’t noticed that he came back this year. I guess that’s mostly because I’m using Twitter less. Anyway, one of his recent tweets is problematic. I really don’t want to wade into that stuff, but, for now, I’m going to keep using Pinboard (and continue being a Harry Potter fan), but I’m not sure how I feel about any of it.

Along those lines, I followed the news about the open letter to the NY Times last week too. I’d really like the Times to course-correct on this stuff, but I haven’t gone as far as cancelling my subscription. Overall, I don’t feel qualified to express too much of an opinion about some of this stuff, but I do feel like some folks are likely on the wrong side of things, even if their intentions are good.

Anyway, all of this horribleness is probably why I’m spending so much of my spare time reading Pathfinder manuals these days. (And, for what it’s worth, Pathfinder seems to have a reputation as a very inclusive RPG. So that’s good…)

yet more Pathfinder

I should probably be tired of blogging about Pathfinder by now, but apparently I’m not. I spent about an hour this morning (or maybe two) working on my character sheet. I’m still figuring things out, like skills and feats and whatnot. It’s kind of frustrating, trying to figure out all the rules, but I guess it’s fun.

I finished reading the Strategy Guide last night. I found it to be very useful. (I posted a short review on Goodreads here.) In my linear read-through of the Core Rulebook, I’m just starting the “feats” chapter, so that puts me about 100 pages in (out of almost 600). I’ll be skimming large parts of the rulebook, but I do want to try to get all the way through it.

My brother hasn’t posted anything to WhatsApp or Discord this week about when we might have our next session (which I guess will be our first actual gaming session), so I guess it’s not happening today. Maybe next Sunday.

I’m a little worried that I’m going to pour a bunch of time and a bit of money into this, and then the actual game is going to fizzle out, and it’ll all have been a waste. This ties into a general theme I’ve been noticing with myself over the last few years, where I spend a bunch of time learning something new (usually programming-related), then never actually put it into practice. It’s usually because I thought I was going to work on a project, then the project fizzles out. Or I just do a bit of setup work on it, then someone else takes it over. Or something like that. I guess there’s something to be said for “learning for learning’s sake,” but there’s a point where I’d like to actually get out there are start tossing fireball spells at orcs, or whatever.

I’ve also been seeking out various tools and resources associated with Pathfinder, as is my wont. (This is another theme: spending too much time making a list of resources, and not much time actually using them…) Here’s a few fun things I’ve stumbled across recently:

  • StartPlaying – This is a platform for bringing players together with “professional GMs.” Prior to finding this, I didn’t know that a “professional GM” was a thing, but I guess I’m not surprised. Putting together an RPG campaign can be a lot of work. And the work of actually GM’ing the sessions can be fun, but it’s generally less fun that being a player. So it’s cool that folks who are good at it can get paid for doing it. If my brother’s Pathfinder campaign fizzles out, maybe I’ll try this, and sink a few bucks into playing a campaign GM’ed by a pro.
  • Dyslexic Character Sheets – I’ve been looking at various alternate character sheets for Pathfinder, some of them web-based and some done as iOS apps. Some include a lot of helpful automation and some include very little. This site was recommended by a couple of folks on Mastodon. It spits out some nice-looking character sheets, but they’re just plain PDFs, not fillable forms. And they’re designed for A4 paper, so that’s also a problem. So I guess I’m still sticking with the official fillable PDFs from Paizo for now.
  • The Pathfinder Humble Bundle that I mentioned in a previous post has been extended by a week. Apparently, it’s been very successful. It’s all second edition stuff, so it doesn’t help me much right now, since my brother is playing first edition. I don’t regret paying for the $5 level though, since the 2E books may come in handy some day. (And I had made my peace with only getting the $5 level, but, now that it’s been extended, I’m thinking about getting the whole $25 bundle, even though I know I don’t need all that extra stuff, and will probably never use any of it…)

Power Platform and Pathfinder

My head is spinning a lot lately, from all the new stuff I’m trying to get up to speed on. I did a full-day App in a Day workshop last Friday, to refresh my memory on how to build canvas apps and model-driven apps for Microsoft Power Platform. I’ve also been working through a lot of the stuff at Microsoft’s Low-Code February site, including the Cloud Skills Challenge, which I completed.

Meanwhile, I also need to try to learn about Dynamics 365 F&O (which isn’t called F&O anymore, but I’m not sure what else to call it). And I started trying to learn Angular a while back, but I keep putting that to the side. My last post about “being overwhelmed by the amount of random stuff I need to learn” was this one from October. Things still haven’t settled down.

And, on the personal side of things, I’m continuing to try to figure out Pathfinder. At this point, I’ve managed to create a character (a half-elf wizard), but really don’t have him fully fleshed out yet. I’ve been reading both the Core Rulebook and the Strategy Guide. And, for some reason, I decided to pick up a hard copy of the Core Rulebook. It’s the “pocket edition,” and the print is too small for me to read comfortably, so it’s mostly useless for me, but I like picking it up and feeling how heavy it is. (Is that weird?) We still haven’t played yet, but we’ve had one organizing session over Zoom (mentioned here), and a second brief session over Discord. I guess we’re going to use a combination of Discord and Roll2o to run the game.

Comixology updates

Comixology has been in the news lately. There was a lengthy article at The Beat a couple of weeks ago, and one at Popverse a couple of days ago. It looks like a bunch of folks there got laid off, and Amazon is probably looking to finish integrating all the Comixology stuff into their Kindle books ecosystem.

I wrote a few blog posts about Comixology about a year ago, when they shut down the separate comixology.com site, and replaced the old Comixology app with the new one. I was going to say here that I haven’t bought much from Comixology since they made that change, but I checked, and I bought about 30 books in 2022, so I guess that’s not quite true. And I still have more than 200 unread books in my account.

I don’t think that Amazon is going to get out of the digital comics business entirely, so I’m assuming that my current Comixology library is safe. But I am a little worried about whether or not Amazon is really going to continue to support digital comics the way they did when they had a real staff at Comixology, and it was at least semi-independent.

Well, I guess this is the kind of thing that’s not worth worrying too much about, since there’s really nothing I can do to affect it. It’ll be interesting to see what Amazon does with Comixology over the next year, and what else happens in the digital comics market.


More Pathfinder

Since my last post on Pathfinder, we’ve had our first session together, though it was just an organizing session. We did it over Zoom, which managed to work out OK, with only minor glitches. I had to bail out early, due to another commitment, so I’m not sure how it ended.

It turns out that we’re going to use the Pathfinder first edition rules. The stuff I got for $5 in the Pathfinder Humble bundle last week, and which I’ve been reading, is all second edition, so that’s a bit of a bummer. It seems like first edition is closer to the old AD&D rules, so I guess that’s good, since AD&D is what I already (kinda) know.

So, now, I’m looking at the first edition rules. Technically, everything I need should be at the Archives of Nethys site. But I’m an old man and I like books, so I went ahead and bought the PDFs for the Core Rulebook and the Strategy Guide. Those were $20 each, so now I’ve spent another $40 on this game. The Core Rulebook is 576 pages, and the Strategy Guide is 162 pages, so I’ve now got a lot to read. I’ve also been watching this YouTube playlist to try to get a head start. (The videos are corny, but useful.) My big task for now is creating a character. I think I ought to be able to do that this week.

I’ve also spent $2 on the Dice by PCalc app for my iPhone, rather than trying to find a set of real dice. I’m trying to avoid spending too much money on this game, but I guess I’ve spent around $50 so far.


I got a text from my brother, out of the blue, about a week ago, asking if I wanted to participate in a new D&D campaign that he and his wife were putting together. Now, I haven’t played D&D since the early 90s, when I briefly participated in a campaign that a friend put together. It fizzled out after only two sessions, largely because this friend had just welcomed a new baby into his life, and he’d underestimated the amount of time it would take to deal with a newborn baby. Prior to that, I hadn’t played D&D since the early 80s, in middle school (and maybe into high school a bit).

I discovered Dungeons & Dragons at age 11, I think, when I begged my mom to buy me the D&D basic set, which I saw on a shelf in a store, and immediately decided I must have. I remember my mom looking at the box doubtfully, noticing that it said “ages 12 and up” and expressing doubt about whether or not I was old enough for it. But she relented, and bought it for me. From there, it was kind of an obsession for a few years. There’s a long blog post I could write about my history with D&D, but I’ll save that for another day.

While I gave up on D&D after a few years, my brother kept playing, and is still playing various role-playing games. Apparently, he’s playing Pathfinder now, which is an offshoot of D&D, from a separate company. Over the years, I’ve slightly kept track of D&D and RPG news, mostly when it overlapped with general comic book / sci-fi / fantasy news. So I was somewhat familiar with the whole licensing thing with D&D, and the OGL. And I was aware that TSR had ceased to exist, and that Wizards of the Coast now owned D&D, and that Hasbro now owned Wizards. And I’d heard a little about the recent brouhaha over Wizards’ proposed changes to the OGL. So I know a bit about the current state of RPGs, but not much.

Anyway, Pathfinder is what my brother is playing, so I’m now trying to figure it out, assuming we actually go forward with his campaign. He sent me a guide for the Skull & Shackles “adventure path,” which seems to be a pirate-themed setting. (I just hope he doesn’t make us all talk like pirates. Though I guess that might be fun…) That guide was around 30 pages, and I finished reading it this morning. It assumes knowledge of the general rules for Pathfinder, though, which I don’t really have. A lot of the terminology is familiar, but a lot of it isn’t.

I noticed a few days ago that Humble is running a So You Wanna Try Out Pathfinder bundle right now, so I dropped $5 on the lowest tier for that bundle, which got me their “beginner box” (which seems similar to that old D&D basic set that I got at age 11), a core rulebook, and a few other things. The Humble purchase gets you a redemption key that you need to use at the Paizo site to unlock a bunch of downloadable watermarked PDFs. So now I have an account at Paizo’s site and am presumably now on their mailing list. (So if I want to go further down this rabbit hole, I’m all set…)

If the local game store here in Somerville hadn’t gone out of business last year, I’d run over there and see if I could pick up a hard-copy book or two, and maybe some dice, but they’re gone and there isn’t another similar store around here, so I’m stuck with just PDFs for now. (Which is probably for the best, since I really don’t need more clutter in my apartment.)

I guess I should now try to read the Hero’s Handbook from the beginner box. That’s a little under 80 pages, and includes a solo adventure that I can play on my own to help me figure out the rules. There’s also the Core Rulebook, but that’s almost 650 pages, so I’m not going to read that one in an afternoon…

There’s also on online Player’s Guide reference, and Core Rulebook reference, so I could probably figure this stuff out even without the PDFs from Humble. Really, though, I’m not the same guy who sat down and devoured the D&D basic set, then all of the AD&D rulebooks, and a bunch of supplemental material, back in my pre-teens and early teens. I’d like to figure out enough of this stuff so that I can have some fun with my brother and his wife. But I’m not that kid who could spend hours poring over all of the ridiculous stuff in the AD&D DM’s guide, and take it all seriously.

We’ll see how all this goes. We have a WhatsApp group chat set up for this, so that’s a start at least. We were supposed to do a Zoom session today to go over some basics, but my brother and his wife are both sick, so that might not happen. I’m not familiar with the tools for actually playing the game online, but I guess something like Foundry Virtual Tabletop can be used to facilitate that. So that might be yet another thing to figure out. I imagine that this whole thing could fizzle out, just like that last campaign I mentioned did. I hope not, since i like the idea of spending some time with my brother, and maybe getting to know his wife a bit. I haven’t seen my brother in years, and still haven’t even met his wife in person. (They got married right at the beginning of the pandemic.)

I’ve always thought that gaming might be a good way for me to get out and socialize a bit more, but I never quite manage to get anything going. Maybe this will actually be the thing that gets me back into tabletop RPGs. (Or it’ll just be one more thing that I get a little obsessed with for a few weeks, then fizzles out.)